ReFo: Ravens at Saints, Preseason Week 4
The fourth preseason game might not mean much for fans but a good performance can make or break a player’s career. Teams will be making tough decisions around the roster bubble and while John Jenkins (the Saints’ 2013 third-round pick) shouldn’t be getting worried just yet, he doesn’t look improved from his rookie season. Gino Gradkowski enjoyed a difficult 2013 season but he had no trouble handling the former Georgia nose tackle in this one.
There were other good performances for the Ravens’ offense too, with former Patriot Kamar Aiken looking particularly good. It will be concerning for Saints’ fans that he got a lot of joy against 2010’s first-rounder Patrick Robinson who is running out of chances to prove he belongs in the NFL.
There were some positives for the Saints, though, with Tyrunn Walker flashing again along with center Tom Lelito on offense. As for the Ravens, their two guards, AQ Shipley and John Urschel, can also be pleased with their performances. Derrick Cox, meanwhile, expectedly had too much experience for New Orleans’ wide receivers. Here’s a look at of some of the game’s individual performances:
Baltimore Ravens – Performances of Note
Gino Gradkoswki, C: +4.4
Breakdown: While Gradkowski had a somewhat difficult season in 2013 (-15.6) he had his way with New Orleans in this one. It was a perfect day for the center in pass protection despite extended action which included blocking for 22 drop-backs. Gradkowski made his money in the run game, though, grading positively (+3.8) on eight blocks and negatively on just two.
Signature Play: Second Quarter, 6:49. No play epitomised the contrasting days of Gradkowski and Jenkins more than this cutback run in the second quarter. The Ravens’ center got good initial downfield movement and then used the Georgia product’s aggressiveness against him. Ultimately he ended up 5 yards downfield with a huge lane created in his gap.
Ryan Jensen, LG: -3.6
Breakdown: As good as the Ravens’ starting offensive line looked, some of the third-string players really struggled. Jensen was part of that unit and he graded negatively in every facet of play (pass blocking, screen blocking and run blocking) as well as committing a pair of penalties. Overall he allowed a hit in 14 pass-blocking snaps and struggled in the run game (-1.8).
Signature Play: Third Quarter, 5:43. On this play the Ravens ran a screen Jensen with Jensen forming part of a trio pulling into space. The play was set up well initially but in almost comical fashion not one of the lineman was able to even get a hand on a defender. Jensen was one of those who ended up on his back looking rather silly.
Zachary Orr, ILB: +2.0
Breakdown: It was only a cameo appearance for Orr but he showed great athleticism and burst in his 17 snaps. Grading positively in every facet of play, he managed a hit in just four rushes, two stops in five run plays, and wasn’t targeted in coverage.
Signature Play: Fourth Quarter, 2:26. This play was easily Orr’s finest as he showed good recognition, burst and finish to limit a run to just 2 yards. The Saints had set up a good double team on the end, knocking him down but Orr shed the linebacker as he got to the second level and made the play in the hole.
New Orleans Saints – Performances of Note
Tim Lelito, C: +2.7
Breakdown: Lelito bounced back from a poor performance against the Colts in a major way on Thursday night. The stats show one hurry conceded in 27 pass blocks and even that was a tricky stunt he had to pick up which he didn’t do terribly. Lelito really stood out in the run game, however, amassing a +2.5 grade.
Signature Play: First Quarter, 9:13. The run may have only picked up a yard but Lelito dominated the nose tackle driving him a good 5 yards downfield and then planting him on the deck with disdain. The back will be disappointed when he sees it on tape because after escaping a tackle in the backfield, there was the potential for a big play.
Kyle Knox, MLB: -3.4
Breakdown: Tough game for Knox, a 2012 undrafted free agent from Fresno State. Coming off a poor game in Indianapolis he didn’t increase his roster chances in this showing. Knox missed another tackle in this one to go with two in the previous game and struggled in coverage allowing all three of his targets to become completions for 45 yards.
Signature Play: Third Quarter, 8:38 or Fourth Quarter, 8:40. The Ravens had so much success with the play action boot with the tight end crossing the formation in the backfield that they did it three times, twice picking up big plays. On both occasions Knox took off after the run in the wrong direction, looking foolish as the tight end came wide open.
Vinnie Sunseri, SS: -0.5
Breakdown: Sunseri was certainly not the most high profile of Bama’s defensive backs, but he played well enough in an entire game’s worth of action to suggest he could develop. There were some concerning moments, including giving up a touchdown but he looks like he might be a candidate for the safety/linebacker hybrid role that Rob Ryan loves.
Signature Play: Second Quarter, 6:08. Facing 2nd-and-5 inside his own 10-yard line, Sunseri showed good close to come from 10 yards away to meet the runner in the hole and limit him to a pickup of just a single yard.
PFF Game Ball
While Walker will consider himself unlucky, Gino Gradkowski’s consistency was unmatched.
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